Tech.Connect: A new start for tech entrepreneurship in Jordan?



When you’ve lived long enough in Jordan, you realize that the country is a “museum” not just of archeological sites, but also all kinds of “amazing initiatives”. When an initiative ends up in the museum it means it is dead.

Jordan comes up with a cool initiative, then somehow it manages to get stifled/mismanaged/turned into PR blabber. Dubai picks up the idea and makes a multi-billion dollar industry out it. Repeat.

How’s that for a pessimistic start of a blog post :-)

Despite having witnessed the coming and going of the Jordanian “IT-Hub-Knowledge-Economy-Wired-Society” bubble (in the form of the ICT Forums, Intaj and all the rest of it) and despite my growing impatience with the way technology adoption has been going in this country, I still got myself (and my business partners) to attend Tech.Connect, Jordan’s (and the Middle East’s) first Tech entrepreneurial meetup.

Tech.Connect badge

I actually went there enthusiastically. After all, I am sucker for tech startups! I was pleasantly surprised by a full room of mostly young faces, which represent the new breed of tech entrepreneurs in Jordan. I was greeted almost immediately by Faisal Ghori, a guy who, as a Fulbright fellow visiting Jordan, is hell-bent on getting our local tech startups off their butts and into one room to talk. He and his Jordanian colleagues at the Queen Rania Center for Entrepreneurship (cool WordPress powered site there!) organized this event and made sure to get a good turn out.

Tech.Connect people

I am happy to report that there were few dinosaurs (like me:-) present and, instead, there were a lot of new faces, eager to exchange business cards: Akhtaboot (the career network). KindiSoft (they develop technology that protects Flash files from theft), Minerets (Wireless apps), Talasim (funny pictures), (social networking for Muslims), TootCorp (of the fame ;-) , Spring (open-source based social web development).

Jeeran (semi dinosaurs, by now, and well-funded by now) where the events main sponsors. An announcement was made that they have acquired Talasim (who, I’ve been told, are working on some super-secret new thing).

Largely absent from the evening were Jordan’s financiers. I presume they are all busy bankrolling skyscrapers and malls. The exception was Accelerator Venture Partners, represented by Emile ‘The Accelerator’ Cubeisy and Sarah ‘I-am-SARA-not-Say-Ra’ Alul :-) . Accelerator has recently made a substantial investment in and is about to launch new radio stations in Jordan.

HR Princess Sumaya, Ray Milhem, Mohammad Khawaja

Later, the room was joined by HRH Princess Sumaya, who has been the driving force behind the transformation that is taking place in “that area behind Jubeiha” which used to be my mental image of the campus that houses the Royal Scientific Society, Princess Sumaya University for Technology (PSUT) and the Higher Council for Science and Technology (HCST).

All these institutions will now, according to HRH’s vision, be fused into El-Hassan Science City, a knowledge and innovation zone that brings together research and development, education and entrepreneurship. iPark, the tech incubator, is already graduating it’s second generation of companies. The HCST has a new director charged with transforming it, and the PSUT has built an impressive reputation for graduating good people (at a time when education in Jordan seems to be going backwards).

“This could become the ‘Google campus’ of Jordan,” the Princess said.

Tech.Connect showed that something is moving in the tiny Jordanian tech startup scene. But more is needed. We need to have at least 100 startups a year if we really want to make a dent in the universe.

Do the math: 100 startups x 50,000 JDs in initial funding = JD 5 Million (which is the cost of building 3 or 4 villas in Abdoun these days). It’s that simple..

See you at the next Tech.Connect…

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16 Responses to “Tech.Connect: A new start for tech entrepreneurship in Jordan?”

  1. Moey Says:

    hahaha! nice post, seems like you enjoyed it… well, lets hope something happens, because apparently people enjoy talking alot in amman

  2. Najeeb Says:

    It was my pleasure , meeting you there

  3. Humeid Says:

    Thanks Najeeb. I enjoyed it. Good job..

  4. Lina Says:

    I missed out :(

    It’s not often one gets the chance to be in a room so full of energy and bright minds… this is very refreshing!

    Najeeb you’re going a brilliant job :)

  5. 7ala Says:

    Thanks for the nice coverage Ahmad :)

  6. Faisal Ghori Says:

    Ahmad, it was great seeing you there.

    And you can count on there being another TechConnect event. It wasn’t intended to be a one-time only or yearly event. On the contrary, it’s designed to take place on a regular basis to allow the tech. community in Jordan and the Middle East to talk, exchange ideas, leverage synergies and build up a viable tech. community in the region.

    Wouldn’t have been possible without you guys.

  7. TechConnect: A Hit! « Middle East Ventures Says:

    [...] The event was attended by startups old and new: Maktoob,, Ikbis, Kindisoft, Albahith, Minerets, Ketab, easyinfo, and many more. There were consultants, bankers, investors and students, all there to discuss there companies, businesses and tech. Princess Sumaya made a surprise appearance as well. Ahmad Humeid has written about the event (here). [...]

  8. Omar Says:

    It was indeed a great event and I think it exceeded everyones expectations. The local IT/Web landscape has drastically changed since we started. Inshallah we will see more momentum that would result in more interesting companies/ideas to come up.

    Ya Ahmad, haram 3alaik, we are barely starting and now you are calling us dinosaurs ! :)

  9. Kamel Al-Asmar Says:

    It was my pleasure meeting you there. Nice article and hope to see you again at the next TECH.Connect or maybe before.

  10. Lubna Says:

    I thank you for the great discription of what TechConnect is actually about, as well as the QRCE and HRH’s vision and mission around. But you forgot to mention DART- the entrepreneurship society at PSUT campus, it seems that you didn’t network with me:) and i didn’t network with you too:D

    great post!

  11. Laith Zraikat Says:

    Hmm, I’d like to emphasize that Omar and I are only “29”, so far from being dinosaurs yet. As we move into our 30’s, we plan to keep surrounding ourselves with young creative minds which will definately slow down the aging process :)

    A great coverage Ahmad. Well described except for one detail; we did not aquire Talasim. The Founders are still majority shareholders. Jeeran is making a strategic investment to make sure that the team is fully funded and backed to take it to a full fledged and profitable business. The Talasim team will also enjoy the strategic support and guidance of our beloved ATH team :)

  12. Khawaja M. Says:

    you always impress me with your reviews Ahmad :)

    Nice to meet you all there!

  13. Sohaib Says:

    Thanks for the review Ahmad, sadly i wasnt able to be there on time, but your review provided a good recap of the things that took place in the event, looking fwd. to meet sometime soon :)

  14. Humeid Says:

    it was great to see you all.. Dinosaurs and non-Dinosaurs ;-)

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